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TEDx and Haiku Deck: Kent Gustavson’s Creative Win

A TEDx Talk We’ll Never Forget

We always love getting mail from our creative community. Recently we heard from speaker, publisher, and thought leader Kent Gustavson, who wrote: “I thought I would tell you about my amazing experience with Haiku Deck. I used it to prepare the slides for my TEDx talk. I didn’t use the Haiku Deck slides directly – but found the Flickr images, and created a presentation in high-def that was highly informed by the incredible service you provide.”

First off, Kent’s story –and TEDxSBU talk–is incredibly powerful and definitely worth a watch.

Bringing the TEDx Story to Life

We were especially intrigued by Kent’s process. Even though he didn’t use Haiku Deck to present his final talk, he used it as the starting point. (This is a great technique to keep in mind if you are presenting at a venue that requires PowerPoint, for example.) In Kent’s words, “In preparing for my TEDx, I used the web app, and exported the presentation as a PDF, which allowed me to find the original images on Flickr, and insert them into a presentation that was at a higher resolution to the TED specifications.”

Here’s a Haiku Deck he made outlining his step-by-step process.


Using Haiku Deck for My TEDx Talk – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Q&A with TEDx Speaker Kent Gustavson

Haiku Deck: What inspired you to try Haiku Deck?

Kent: I first found out about Haiku Deck through a friend who is a thought leader and creates “decks” all the time with various programs. One of his contacts downloaded the app and experimented with it. I really liked the images and the aesthetic of the stark, simple statements over the top of the images.

Haiku Deck: What role did Haiku Deck play in helping your talk take shape?

Kent: The images and slides that I was able to build using Haiku Deck were actually extremely formative in creating the narrative and structure of my TEDx Talk. I knew what I wanted to speak about, but the images really pulled together the themes and stories that I was speaking about in a way that anchors those concepts for visual people. I also was careful to create thematic slides that were closely related to the talk, but created a tiny bit of harmony and dissonance with what I was saying at times.

“The images really pulled together the themes and stories that I was speaking about in a way that anchors those concepts for visual people.”

Most importantly, the slides during TED Talks create an environment within which the presenter actually resides. So, when I put a landscape behind me on the screen, I was actually within that landscape in my mind, and in the mind of the audience members. Long story short, Haiku Deck was the tool I used to pull the many strands of my talk together into one cohesive 18-minute speech.

Haiku Deck: Who do you think would benefit from using Haiku Deck?

Kent: I taught for nearly a decade at the college level, and would have loved to have a tool like this in my classroom — it’s so simple to use, and encourages presenters to simplify and solidify their concepts. So, it’s certainly great for students and teachers.

It would also be very refreshing in the business world. There is still the ability to include complex images and so forth, but the format encourages the presenter to entertain through images, and to simplify text and concepts. Traditional PowerPoint presentations feel like they were designed in 1985 at the dawning of the PC era, and Haiku Deck feels fresh and exciting. There are a million possible applications of this software, and I can’t wait to see how it grows and expands!

“Traditional PowerPoint presentations feel like they were designed in 1985 at the dawning of the PC era, and Haiku Deck feels fresh and exciting.”

One last important point: Haiku Deck encourages fair use of photographs. That is very important to me, and in working with professionals every day, I see way too many images simply harvested from Google Images, and not credited to the original photographer or artist. This tool gives the presenter countless options for images, and allows them to credit the artist, and even be in touch with that artist.

“I see way too many images simply harvested from Google Images, and not credit to the original photographer or artist.”

Haiku Deck: What tips do you have for someone trying out the app for the first time?

Kent: Don’t try to make it do what PowerPoint does. If PowerPoint is a bulldog, Haiku Deck is a leopard. It’s beautiful, and a totally different kind of creature. Experiment, search for images, try to fit text into the presentation in new ways.

In the same way a guitarist uses different instruments to get different sounds, Haiku Deck will bring a different (and more vibrant and succinct) aspect to presentations. To be honest, Haiku Deck is also the simplest presentation creator on the market, and makes slides look as if they have been designed by a professional marketing team.

“To be honest, Haiku Deck is…the simplest presentation creator on the market, and makes slides look as if they have been designed by a professional marketing team.”

I really was inspired by Haiku Deck, and the incredible photos I found through the app. I believe it added another dimension to my talk, both in the room and on the live stream (or on the YouTube video). Simple, succinct statements, combined with images that were bold, beautiful and expansive, helped me to tell disparate stories and still feel anchored to the core message of the speech.

Kent added, “Thank you to Haiku Deck for creating software worthy of the word haiku. Simple, beautiful, clean, and incredibly expressive and malleable to the goals of the artist or presenter.”

We are incredibly grateful to Kent for sharing his story and his process (and for his inspiring creative message). We hope to see many more TEDx talks incorporating Haiku Deck — if you’ve used it in this way, please let us know!

More Inspiring TEDx Resources

  • Greg Gottesman, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group, also used Haiku Deck for his TEDx talk, “One Trillion Dollars, Student Debt and Higher Education.” See his slides and watch the video of his talk (since it’s all in the delivery).
  • This Haiku Deck captures inspiring quotes and highlights from TEDx Seattle.
  • Ashlyn Bernier created this Haiku Deck for “The Ph.D. Problem,” which she delivered at TEDxEdmonton Education.
  • This Haiku Deck by Rokk3rLabs summarizes Daphne Koller’s “What We’re Learning from Online Education” TED talk.
  • Tara-Nicholle Nelson of  Rethink7 shares 11 favorite transformational TED talks with a Haiku Deck and videos in this blog post.

2 Comments

  1. Does this mean the resolution of Haiku Deck images is automatically scaled down? I present on a big screen and haven’t noticed any problems. Maybe the TED screen is sufficiently bigger that they have to be top-def.

    • Hi Mr. Williamson!

      The images will be scaled down to fit the iPad screen, and will be compressed to a smaller dimension when published, but this won’t cause any distortion to the images.

      On a typical projector or screen, there shouldn’t be any issues but it’s possible that TED may have a specific criteria that presenters need to meet for their presentations.

      I hope this helps clear things up a bit and if there’s anything else we can help you with, just let us know!

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